What I Learned Spending Christmas with the NBA

The Heat say "Step aside, because we're coming."

This Christmas, ESPN and ABC broadcast 5 consecutive NBA games running from noon to 1am Eastern Time. Although Fox & Friends hosts took exception to the league’s choice to schedule entertainment during what can be the most unpleasant time of the year for families and orphans alike, the game marathon lived up to its hype.

The Knicks continued to gain the trust of New York fans by beating a talented Bulls team. Orlando and Boston gave fans a preview to a potential playoff matchup. The Miami Heat took a huge step forward as they punished the Los Angeles Lakers in the Staples Center. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant showed the world why he’s an elite scorer when they dusted off the shorthanded Denver Nuggets. And the Golden State Warriors/Portland Trailblazers game demonstrated that basketball can still be exciting when the two teams involved are going absolutely nowhere.

But you didn’t come here for game results…no. You came to find out what other goofy observations came from a full day of watching basketball on TV. So away we go!

T-Mobile’s TV marketing department should be fired

Looking back, 2010 can definitely be considered the year of the OCAT, or Out of Context Auto-Tune. YouTube provided access to many clips of news stories and Internet memes being remixed into song for our amusement. DJ Steve Porter and The Gregory Brothers are the most popular creators of such mixes, and the marketers of T-Mobile thought it would be a great idea to cash in on the trend.

T-Mobile carriers feel your pain, Charles.

It wasn’t. The new T-Mobile commercial using OCAT features Charles Barkley, whose on-air rant gets remixed with auto-tune by producers Cool & Dre. The commercial depicts a world where this Charles Barkley remix catches on like wildfire, as amusing OCATs have been known to do. The only problem is…this OCAT is “turrible.”

Then there was another T-Mobile commercial, where Dwyane Wade gets locked in his own bathroom. He sends a video text to his maid to “GET HIM OUT” of there. The message somehow leaks to the public, leading to a media frenzy about Dwyane Wade’s plea leave the Miami Heat.

Two problems with this commercial: if Dwyane’s service is good enough for his message to be sent, how come he didn’t receive any messages asking him what the hell he’s thinking for wanting to leave Miami once that rumor started (he knew nothing about the rumor upon rescue)? Secondly, if messages can accidentally be sent to the entire world, why would T-Mobile want to associate itself with that possibility, even if it’s in the interest of commenting on how the public overreacts to the statements of public figures?

How’s this for a new company tagline? Two commercials, two fails. T-Mobile.

Barbecue Fritos look delicious

Apparently, Taco Bell sells a burrito with barbecue-flavored Fritos rolled into it. The commercial might not make you eat at Taco Bell, but I thank them for renewing my quest for the perfectly powdered chip.

Put it down, Mariah; it's not a cake.

The Mariah Carey NBA Christmas promos have GOT to stop

There’s no need to spend many words on what people will agree with unanimously. But if the NBA really wants to entertain its viewers, how about they update this song specifying that the “you” to which Mariah refers is a bag of Twinkies?

The Lakers will not successfully defend their title this season

If their performance on Christmas Day was any indication of the kind of basketball they are capable of, the LA Lakers can forget about making history with another 3-peat. Miami still has some work to do, and they still mopped the court with Kobe’s Krew. And looking at how the other elite teams in the Western Conference improved in the offseason, it’s unlikely that the Lakers can beat any of them in 7-game series. I hope Ron Artest doesn’t go crazy again when he realizes that he auctioned off the only championship ring he’d ever win. Considering that the proceeds of the auction will go to mental illness awareness and treatment (respect), I guess he could call it an investment.

The Jackson/Van Gundy team makes casual fans uncomfortable

If you regularly watch nationally televised basketball games, then you already know and are amused by the on-air rapport that Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy have. For people who don’t, it may seem like a volatile former-player-former-coach relationship in which the player verbally snipes everything every cantankerous coach has ever said to him. Trust me; they like each other. It’s just TV.

Nike wants to blind you

Ho ho horrendous!

The unveiling of three signature shoes happened during this day of games: the Nike LeBron 8 V.2, Kevin Durant’s Nike KD III “No Yield for Yellow,” and the Nike Zoom Kobe VI. Although the shoes will be available in less offensive colors, displaying the shoes in a way that calls their spokespeople’s fashion sense into question is a strange promotional strategy.

There may be no correlation to the teams that lost and the players who wore ugly shoes, but the worst loss and the ugliest shoe both belong to Kobe Bryant and his teammates who also laced up these low-top traffic cones.

Green Mile’s girlfriend is scary

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan was sitting behind the broadcast table at the Staples Center with his girlfriend, reality show personality Omorosa. I saw them kiss. It was weird, weirder than when Duncan spit up computer-generated flies.

Bob Barker tans…a LOT

Former host of The Price is Right Bob Barker is in the latest State Farm commercial, which continues the campaign of people using the company’s jingle to make things they want materialize out of thin air. Not sure why someone would want Bob Barker, but he shows up…looking like a Cheeto in a suit.

AJ Johnson is hot

If I looked like that at 47...wait--I'm a guy. Nevermind.

So here’s a confession: I skipped the Oklahoma City Thunder-Denver Nuggets game. Instead, I was watching K-Ci & Jojo Come Clean episodes that my sister had DVR’d. Rest assured that it is train wreck television at its most soulful.

But the one part of the show that is no joke is actress-turned-fitness/life coach A.J. Johnson. Johnson played Sharane in House Party, but BET has made it their business to make sure people only know her as Jody’s mother in Baby Boy. She’s 47 now, in incredible shape, and easily justified my choice to avoid seeing Kevin Durant’s banana-fied boat shoes for two and a half hours.

Maybe it'll work if it comes from a fellow Pacer.

Basketball is better without Reggie Miller

Make no mistake; Reggie Miller is one of the greatest players in the history of basketball. And I hope that his nomination for the Hall of Fame leads to his 2011 induction.

However, I hate it when he talks. Further, I hate that ESPN and ABC pay him to talk throughout games. Certainly his experience in the game should lead to invaluable insights. But as we’ve learned from Bill Walton (who doesn’t work in this capacity anymore), some legends should ride off into the sunset and follow jam bands, polluting their own ears instead of ours. Happy holidays, everyone!

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